Yesterday I was pleased to attend the unveiling of a monument to UAB excellence in innovation and sustainability—the construction of our Solar Decathlon team’s Surviv(AL) House. We’ve been eagerly following our team’s progress on the house and we were delighted to showcase the fruits of their labor.

UAB and Birmingham can be very proud of our team and the outstanding work they are doing on this project (and I am particularly proud as UAB president and alumnus of our School of Engineering). Our team is one of only 12 world-wide selected to participate, and among only two teams from the Southeastern U.S. This is another example of our students making their marks nationally and internationally, and I congratulate and commend our team members as well as the faculty and staff who mentor them.

solar exteriorA rendering of the completed Surviv(AL) House

The full-size, solar-powered house they have designed and constructed is an ideal blend of smart energy production, energy and water efficiency, and market potential. It is built to (as the team’s video notes) “not only survive, but thrive,” with its revolutionary tornado panels designed by our School of Engineering, a ductless HVAC unit and air dehumidification system, and—as a bit of Southern flair—a roomy porch that will have a transparent canopy.

The Surviv(AL) House is emblematic of UAB’s spirit of innovation and collaboration, as our School of Engineering, our Facilities Division and UAB Sustainability have partnered effectively to make this project such a success. I thank and commend them on their outstanding work as well as our partners at Calhoun Community College. As with all of our efforts at UAB, our greatest progress is made through partnership with our community. We are grateful for the support of our donors and friends in the continued construction of this project.

This project also reflects our continued success in sustainability efforts, as we continue to grow one of the most sustainable campuses in the nation. UAB was recently named a 2017 “Green Ribbon School” by the U.S. Department of Education for our approach to creating a green environment on campus. We are home to the largest solar panel array in Birmingham (atop our Campus Rec Center). We earned a Silver Rating in our first national sustainability assessment last fall, and we are nationally recognized for the more than 4,000 trees on our campus (400 of those planted in 2016 alone).

The continual greening of our campus is a great source of pride and a great learning opportunity for our students. Our campus is a “living lab” in which our students find hands-on experience and training in the development of renewable energy technologies and solutions. The real-world solutions they are developing, such as the Surviv(AL) House, can have a significant impact across our state, nation and world.